Your resume is the first point of contact you have with a hiring manager – and first impressions always count. So it’s certainly worth considering the format and font that can help your resume stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons

In a competitive job market, it’s likely that the hiring manager will receive dozens of resumes – potentially more. This highlights the need for your resume to appear both polished and professional if it’s to make it through the first phase of screening.

Before you begin thinking through the achievements and professional skills that you’d like to emphasize in your resume, the first step is to decide the appropriate resume format.

1. Choosing a suitable resume template

Using a resume template can be an easy way to make your resume appear professional. And there is no shortage of online templates to select from.

The questions is, with so many different formats available, how do you cut through the clutter to decide which is right for you?

Let’s break it down by looking at what works in Japan.

JIS format

Many employers in Japan still prefer the standard format, or JIS resume. These are often sold as blank forms available from convenience stores.

This rirekisho, or ‘background form’ is traditionally filled out by hand. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it demonstrates that you have invested time writing the resume. And secondly, it gives the hiring manager a chance to take a look at your handwriting. So keep it neat!

If you’re writing your resume by hand, have something written in advance on a separate piece of paper so that you can neatly transcribe into your resume without any errors.

While the JIS format will give a hiring manager a good overview of your education and work history, it also provide opportunities to describe your motives for applying, your skills, and your strengths. These are areas that call for careful consideration. Again, have separate notes prepared that you can copy over to your resume.

Other formats

The shokumu keirekisho is the second part of your resume. It’s usually attached to the rirekisho (JIS format resume), and it lets you provide more details about your experience and the skills gained in previous roles.

The key to both resume formats is to express yourself clearly – communication skills are highly valued in Japan’s workforce. Be concise in what you have to say, and always proofread what you have written, checking for spelling mistakes.

Importantly, don’t try to include every available piece of information into your resume. An overly long resume can suggest a poor ability to sum up a situation. Instead, highlight your key achievements, and focus on what you believe makes you an ideal candidate for the role. It can help to put your resume on top of the hiring manager’s pile.

2. What’s a good font for a resume?

The font you use can speak volumes about your professionalism and your eye for detail.

A useful font when you’re preparing a resume meant for Japanese eyes is the Mincho typeface, also known as Ming or Song. Ideally, stick to a font size between 10.5 and 11 points.

For English words or numerals, both Century and Times New Roman balance well with Ming. Whichever font you decide on, keep it consistent throughout your resume.

Some small embellishments are fine. You can use bold for headings, and while quotation marks or underlined phrases may be acceptable, these won’t showcase your written communication skills. Think about creating emphasis in the way you express yourself rather than through shortcuts like bolding.

Italics can be hard to read, and should be used as little as possible, if at all.

When it comes to the font color, stick to black. Using more than one colour will make your resume harder for the hiring manager to follow, while also making your resume appear unprofessional.

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